Narrative Policy

What is a narrative?

Narratives are articles written in the first person as personal accounts. “Narrativism” or storytelling is the idea that ‘we live our lives in a host of stories, which have connection with the stories of other people in various ways,’[1] and so ‘our identities are created by a vast web of stories, as is our relationship with reality.’[2]

Why do we publish narratives?

Storytelling is a crucial social practice central to humanity. It is also becoming more acceptable in scholarly literature in the wake of postmodernist thought and scepticism about political objectivity and enlightenment positivism. As historian of the philosophy of science, Paul Feyerabend, said:

I assert that there exist no “objective” reasons for preferring science and western rationalism to other traditions. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine what such reasons might be.[3]… my main objection against intellectual solutions of social problems is that they start from a narrow cultural background, ascribe universal validity to it and use power to impose it on others…[4]

At the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity we respect science while rejecting the proposition that science and narrativism are mutually exclusive. Narrative knowledge is therefore encouraged and welcomed by the Journal of Law & Human Dignity. We embrace narrative knowledge as a legitimate way of knowing and not merely as a supplement to traditional scientific methods.[5] We accept the proposition that:

Traditional forms of knowledge (knowing how and knowing that) are not sufficient to cover a third kind of knowledge (knowing what it is like) in the way that storytelling can.[6]

This is because:

To know requires knowledge from the inside whereas, to know about is based on knowledge from outside the subject. These two ways of knowing inform us that there are limits to knowing an “Other”. These limitations will exist in any inter subjective relationship, and the degree to which they influence the power relations depends on the structural location of the subject position one occupies.[7]

Therefore, the Journal welcomes articles written in the first person.

Authenticity and refereeing

All articles published by the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity are double-blind peer reviewed. On occasions it may be possible to identify the author of a narrative and in these situations the article will be refereed by at least two anonymous referees. Articles must fit the Journal mission and objectives and will also be assessed according to authenticity and integrity.

Author advice

Articles are not necessarily more objective or persuasive just because they are written in the first person. What matters is the content of the article, how it is expressed, by whom, and for what reasons. Our readers expect authors to link their ideas to our mission and objectives and to aim for clarity, conciseness and simplicity. In many situations it will be clearer and more truthful to say “I found” rather than “It was found that”. However, it is crucial when writing in the first person that “we” is not used to universalise what is really an anecdotal, personal, and/or privileged assertion. For example; “we need to amend the Racial Discrimination Act to remove references to ‘insult’ and ‘offend’ and leave in place ‘vilification’”. Authors should not assume that readers of the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity share their experience of the world.

Please avoid technical terms and jargon and only use them where it is necessary. Be clear and concise, remove redundant words, and avoid embellishment. Use an active voice because it will help to reduce sentence length and it will improve clarity. For example it is better to say “Australian people consume more resources” (active voice) than “more resources are consumed by people in Australia” (passive voice).


[1] Sefan Snaevaar, “Don Quixote and the Narrative Self” (2007) March/April Issue 60 Philosophy Now 6, 6.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Paul Feyerabend, Farewell to Reason (Verso, 1990) 297.

[4] Ibid 305.

[5] Ibid 307.

[6] Sarah Worth, ’Narrative Knowledge: Knowing Through Storytelling,’ MIT4: Media in Transition: The Work of Stories Conference, May 2005, <>; See also ‘Story - Telling and Narrative Knowing,’ (2008) 42(3) Journal of Aesthetic Education 42, 42 - 55.

[7] Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Talkin’ Up to the White Woman: Indigenous Women and Feminism in Australia, PhD Dissertation, School of Humanities, Griffith University, Nathan, 1998, 216. An argument made equally well in Maria C. Lugones and Elizabeth V. Spelman, ’Have we got a theory for you‘ in Naomi Zack, Laurie Shrage and Crispin Sartwell (eds), Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality: The Big Questions (Wiley-Blackwell, 1998) 381 – 382.